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Erdogan says he will hold EU talks in Brussels on Monday

Greece to extend border fence over migration surge — official

By AFP - Mar 08,2020 - Last updated at Mar 08,2020

ANKARA — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he will hold talks in Brussels on Monday as he called on Greece to "open the gates" for migrants at Turkey's border trying to get to Europe.

"I will have a meeting with European Union officials tomorrow [Monday] in Belgium," Erdogan said during a speech in Istanbul on Sunday.

He added he would discuss the migration issue after Turkey opened its borders.

"I hope I will return from Belgium with different outcomes."

Turkey's decision to open its border sparked an escalating row between Ankara and Brussels, as well as a war of words between Turkey and Greece.

Erdogan will meet European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels at 18:00 pm on Monday.

They will "discuss EU-Turkey matters, including migration, security, stability in the region and the crisis in Syria", Michel's spokesman, Barend Leyts, said on Twitter.

Turkey repeatedly rails against what it describes as unfair burden-sharing, since around four million mostly Syrian refugees live in Turkey.

In 2016, Turkey and the EU agreed a deal whereby Brussels would provide billions of euros in aid in exchange for Turkish authorities curbing the flow of migrants.

But Ankara has repeatedly accused the bloc of not fulfilling promises made as Europe suffered its worst refugee crisis since World War II.

Over a million people fled to the continent in 2015.

Erdogan's top press aide Fahrettin Altun has said one of the unmet conditions was that the EU would take in refugees from Turkey.

 

'Let them go' 

 

During the same televised speech, Erdogan urged Greece to open its border after clashes in recent days between migrants and Greek police.

"Hey Greece! I appeal to you... open the gates as well and be free of this burden," he said, adding: "Let them go to other European countries."

Thousands of migrants massed on the land border with Greece after Turkey last month said it would no longer prevent people from leaving the country.

Greece will extend its fence on the border with Turkey, a government source said on Sunday.

"We have decided to immediately extend the fence in three different areas," the government source told AFP, adding that the new sections, to the south of the area now under pressure, would cover around 36 kilometres.

The current stretch of fence will also be upgraded, the official added.

Tens of thousands of asylum-seekers have been trying to break through the land border from Turkey for a week after Ankara announced it would no longer prevent people from trying to cross into the European Union.

A police source Sunday told AFP that riot police reinforcements from around the country had been sent to the border in recent days, in addition to drones and police dogs.

Turkey has also bombarded Greek forces with tear gas at regular intervals, and Athens has accused Turkish police of handing out wire cutters to migrants to help them break through the border fence.

The Greek government over the weekend also released footage which it said showed a Turkish armoured vehicle assisting efforts to bring down the fence.

"Parts of the fence have been removed, both by the [Turkish] vehicle and with wire cutters, but they are constantly being repaired," local police unionist Elias Akidis told Skai TV.

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